Tuesday, February 16, 2010

View From The Bridge 2-17-2010

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

The Public Broadcasting System, twice a year, has a fund raising program. I am going to borrow their fundraising techniques this issue. We have several very important Fund Raising Programs that need to be brought to the attention of those of us who think about Fort Benton’s future in the historic sense.

I have said many times, that in my opinion, the most important historic structure in Fort Benton is the Old Bridge and my favorite. Its steel structure (the oldest in Montana) and wooden planks (although replaced many times) could tell stories we would give anything to hear, if it could only speak.

The picture of the Old Bridge in the Russell Country magazine this past year was the most striking photo ever taken of the Bridge. I will be sure to have it framed to hang in the Visitors Center this coming season. The magazine itself is worth keeping and every household should own a copy to hand down to their children and grandchildren.
Randy Morger (yes, we are related but I would do this no matter who headed the committee) has instituted a fundraiser to “Light the Bridge.” What this entails is the replacing of the few lights presently on the Bridge with the original historic lighting. A couple of those old fixtures are still in place after all these years. Check them out for yourself.) Randy has researched these, through the Joel Overholser Research Center, pictures of the original lighting fixtures and the Light the Bridge Committee will try to get as close to the originals as possible.

The current lighting system on the Old Bridge would be replaced to get rid of the exposed wires and the new “old” lights would extend across the entire bridge. The new lighting would be across the top (not on the sides) and light from the fixtures – just like in the old days - would project downward as to not disturb the sighting of the night sky. The lights would be on a timer to come on in the evening and can be controlled manually. This will not only be great for evening strollers and for safety, but it should also be a very pleasing sight from the riverbank.

I attended the C.I.A. (Community Improvement Association) meeting a week ago to ask for funds for my “Cottonwood Tree Replacement” project. I was on the C.I.A. Board of Directors for four or five years under President Brad Baker as its secretary. I have not been to many of the Boards meetings since except to ask for funds for projects. I was very impressed when Jodi Roth immediately offered twice the funds that Randy had asked for the project. Jodi felt that this was a very important project for the community. The Old Bridge is Fort Benton, brought back to its historic lighting, and needs to be maintained.

The Light the Bridge group also obtained a Lippard-Clawiter grant and contributions from several private contributors and with the CIA funds, the committee’s goal to raise $10,000 is now more than halfway complete. Therefore, this is where P.B.S. fund raising appears. If the readers of the “View” are so inclined, I ask that you make out your checks to “Light the Bridge” and mail them to Randy at PO Box 385 or to me at PO Box 866. This project is so Fort Benton and I know that you will respond like the Fort Bentonites that you are.

This is the other plea for some interest in filling the Shep Courtyard with completed bricks. There are still 400 to 500 bricks in the courtyard that are blank. Gail Stensland has claimed this as his project for years but needs an apprentice to learn the ropes of ordering bricks and placing them in the courtyard. I spoke with him a week ago about ordering a brick and found that he did not have a single other order. He usually has an order of at least ten bricks before ordering.
I would like to emphasize that a brick does not have to be for a canine. They are memorial bricks and some suggestions are for births, birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, parents, grandparents, pioneers, homesteaders, and any other event you would like in permanent brick. The funds received from the bricks not only pay for the brick, the lettering, the installation, but the maintenance of the courtyard.

I realize that the economy still has not picked up and perhaps that is the reason no bricks have been ordered. Do think about it though, as a permanent gift for that special occasion. At the Visitor’s Center, if I am told they are interested in Shep, I give them a form for the courtyard. There is still interest in Shep as requests about him keep coming into the Research Center. Shep lives on in memory and a brick purchased by you will live on in memory too.

I have written many times about Pie Day urging you to come to the Golden Age Senior Center on the third Friday of the month. There has never been a noticeable increase in attendance. The women who belong to the Seniors Center work so hard to bake those pies and trust me they are the best. They have a menu in the River Press each week and everyone is invited to eat there. You do not have to be a Senior Citizen. Daily the meals are served at 12:00 and on Sundays at 1:00. They are great meals and I would not call them lunch but rather dinner meals. The chicken soup is to die for. So make an effort to go to the Center and meet your Senior Citizens. They are a great group of people and actually, you can talk with them. We can carry on a good conversation without too much talk about our physical problems (that is a joke folks.) Actually, someday you will understand what I am talking about. It is later than you think.

They start this Wednesday and are being held in Great Falls. That is the closest I have ever known them to be. I can remember going to Cut Bank and Shelby and staying in a motel. You can come home from Great Falls easily so try to make a few games to support the Longhorns Girls and Boys. We have seen some good basketball games this season. How about that Belt game where they came from behind 13 points to lose by one point. Go Horns.

I realized too late last week that I forgot to write God Bless America. So I will say it again this week…God bless America. We need it so badly as a new offensive has begun. God not only bless America but also watch over those precious young men of ours who so willingly serve to protect our lives.